H.W 6 Dorothea Lange Essay Manuel Razuri April 16, 2020

Manuel Razuri

COMD 1340 – D164

Dorothea Lange Essay


Dorothea Lange’s picture of the “White Angel BreadLine” reflects the pain and poverty during the depression that was one of the most difficult  times in The United States history. The picture reminds us how a person was in a line, against their humanity and  dignity waiting for small scraps of food. Normally, we don’t appreciate what we have until a picture like this  makes us realize the benefits of industrialization. We have the ability to go out and buy food and sometimes food  that we may not even need. This is a wonderful gift that can be taken for granted but this picture alone brought forth these feelings and a valuable lesson of humanity and compassion. In 1933 when the picture was taken a woman named Lois Jordan -who was nicknamed the white angel – established a soup kitchen to feed those who were unemployed and destitute. According to review from the J. Paul Guetti Museum, Lois Jordan soup kitchen relies solely on donations, she managed to supply meals to more than one million men over a three year period.  Dorothea Lange’s picture showed a specific moment when many men gathered for food,  she used her positioning pointing the camera down on the main subject of the picture , and he became the center of a great triangle, directing  the line of sight to the subject as well as focusing the camera to the man’s face. Lange’s perfect angle shows us an excellent comparison of rough material, through the old man’s wrinkles, his hat,  his aging skin and finally the fedoras. The caps worn by the other men around him represent opposites; because they are arrangements of straight lines and curves, constantly returning to the central figure.

Another picture taken by Dorothea Lange’s  is the “Migrant Mother” and in this picture you see a strong mother holding her kids in comfort looking off into the distance. The woman depicted in the picture circulated in magazines and many papers throughout all The United States. The woman’s arm becomes a strong vertical line, leading the eye’s towards her face. The woman and the contrast in value between the pale skin of the sleeping baby and the rest of the family who are darkened. Dorothea Lange was capable of expressing the true hardships of the great depression. Her goal was to have the world see the suffering of the great depression in the U.S. and  in her own way try to change the present for a better future. The impact that she had was truly amazing, was the realization that her picture was able to give the Americans a better understanding of what they were going through at that time.

Florence Owens Thompson ( the migrant mother from Dorothea Langes’ picture) once believed to be a cotton picker.  However, later on it was found out that the woman was actually a farm worker that went around looking and trying to obtain different jobs to feed her family. Dorothea Lange claimed that Thompson was a pea picker who sold her tires to feed her children, but the children of Thompson clarified that there was a very poor family trying to make it survive in a time of recession. This misconception caused the picture to be at the forefront of food donations to pea pickers camps. The photograph was taken as well as the face of harm that the great depression was causing. In comparison to the pandemic that is going on today, the picture brings forth a feeling of sadness as all the jobs and lives lost. We can only imagine so many people like Florence’s family suffering without a home and they are just trying to survive.  Very similar feeling has happened right to all Americans and the whole world as well, we are dealing with a virus that can kill us, and feels like we are leaving those harsh times once again.  Finally, the picture was worth being taken, especially looking outside because of the good that it did. Sometimes  harsh moments in history need a face in order for others to understand, and might help even the ones that have to be the subjects that hated the idea of so much attention especially for being depicted as something they weren’t. And even though they were believed to be something else in the end , this picture gave so much more than it took away and that its true worth.

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One Response to H.W 6 Dorothea Lange Essay Manuel Razuri April 16, 2020

  1. rmichals says:

    What you describe as Lange’s perfect angle is in fact a slight high angle. lange herself was short so after reading your paragraph about this picture I began to wonder where she was shooting from to be able to look down towards this man. The angle of view hides his eyes under his hat, removing his individuality and bringing our attention to the empty cup and the worn hands.

    I agree that the woman’s arm is really important in creating the feeling of strength and endurance that she has.

    I love how you phrased it “Sometimes hard moments need a face..” We humans empathize with other humans. Information is harder to digest and understand.

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